Sunday, September 30, 2012

Culture clashes and advice for Yankees

For those of you wondering about Tashi, she's doing as well as can be expected. She has good moments and bad ones, but that's par for the course.

We've had an influx of Northerners this summer, so I feel like I can share a little advice with them:

This is central Texas. Things move much more slowly here. Nevertheless, we have been known, while driving, to pass on the right.

Speaking of driving: going the speed limit, unless you're near a known speed-trap, is Not Done here. We have places to be and miles to go, so we generally drive like bats out of hell. Just keep up with traffic and you'll be fine. Don't go the speed limit in the passing lane; you'll likely get killed or yelled at.

I understand that things work differently in Chicago or New York or wherever it is you're from, but here you *can't* be abrasive and expect to get things done. If the movers tell you they'll be there between twelve and three, but you need them to be there right at twelve because you've got the freight elevator reserved from two to four, explain that. Don't, as I heard one person say, snap back, "You will not be there between twelve and three! You'll be there at twelve!" She later wondered why the movers came late and moved slowly. Just be polite. It costs nothing and greases the wheels.

If you have to ask how to "style" "cowboy boots" (they're called just "boots") then you probably shouldn't be wearing them. As Lyle says, buy your jeans a little longer.

The heaviness of the accent does not always indicate the education level, general intelligence, or personal wealth of the speaker.

Women of a certain age are always referred to with "Miz" preceding their first names, and only then if you've been invited to call them by their Christian name. This holds true in most small towns (it does in mine) and some large cities. In fact, it's best not to call anyone by their first name unless you're sure it's okay.

"Ma'am," "Sir," "Please," and "Thank You" are not optional. And don't, unless you want a reputation for being difficult, walk straight up to somebody and tell 'em to do something without first asking how they are and being pleasant.

Bless their hearts, they don't know any better.

Speaking of culture clashes, I was listening to an NPR interview a few weeks ago with a guy who says that culture influences perception of color; in other words, the context in which you're raised determines to a large extent how many colors you see and what you call them. He said, for instance, that the ancient Greeks had so few delineations between colors that they essentially saw in black, white, and bronze.

I snorted mentally at that until the other day, when Friend Deepa, who can't believe my hair, was touching it gently and cooing, "Golden hair, golden hair." Now, my hurr is red--at the most, it could be called strawberry-blonde when I've been out in the sun. When I corrected her, she said positively, "No, your hair is golden." I said, No, my hair is red.

She then pushed back her own hair to show me the earrings that she wears which, like those of most of the Indian women here, are twenty-four carat gold, so pure it's brassy. "Your hair," she pointed out, "is the same color as my earrings. So it's golden."

Point to Deepa. I stand corrected.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Tashi brought Wash's ashes home today in his Tardis urn. This completes this stage of his journey. Next stop: Wherever, Whenever.

Regularly scheduled blogging will resume whenever this localized weather system gets off my face.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Allons-Y, Wash! Good journeys.

Kevin Pratt-King

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Prayers for Tashi and Wash, please. . .

Wash is in Hospice right now. He told Tashi on Sunday that he thought he was about to die, watched an episode of Dr. Who, and was unconscious before the end of it.

Please keep them both in your thoughts, but especially Tashi. She proved every day what love is.

Thank you.

Friday, September 07, 2012

In which Jo gets a little pissy about language.


Gifted (passive voice).


When did "gift" become a verb? When did it become acceptable to say that your mother-in-law gifted you with a Precious Moments figurine? How is it okay to say that something is good for gifting or is giftable?

And when did skirting start describing pieces of fabric with buttons at the top? Skirting is either something one does around an issue, or vinyl sold by the linear (not lineal) foot at the mobile-home dealership. One buys a skirt. One does not purchase skirting to wear on one's body, unless one is suiting up for a particularly bizarre costume party. (Halloween costumation ideas, right here on Headly Nursingtons!)

A million years ago, my parents would sit around the breakfast table in their bathrobes, reading out loud from the Wretched-Comical, our local newspaper. Dad went into fits one day over the headline "GIFTABLE SWEATERING," then read the accompanying ad copy out loud with hoots and snorts. I think it might've been 1980 or thereabouts; my sister was home for Christmas break from college. She, being the English major in the house, had lots to say about giftable sweatering.

Then, about a month ago, somebody on my beloved Hairpin used the term "for gifting." The somebody in question was an actual contributor, not a commenter, and nobody called her out on it. Nobody. "Gifting" was okay.

I felt a little like I'd been dropped into a reality I wasn't familliar with. With which I wasn't familliar; whatever. I'm not opposed to splitting the infinitive if it makes reading easier.

I am, however, opposed to gifting and skirting.

(Before anybody asks, yes, I'm poncy about "nursing" as a job description as well. "Nursing" feels like it ought to be limited to breasts and babies. "Being a Nurse is My Bag" doesn't flow, though, and looks crappy on a reusable grocery sack. Yeah, I'm weird.

At least I'll never turn "surgeon" or "patient care aide" into verbs. That's my promisation.)

Monday, September 03, 2012

Well, *that's* never happened before.

Friends and neighbors, I got my ass kicked on Monday.

And when I say I got my ass kicked, I mean I got my ass kicked.

Let me explain: there are a number of unfortunate things that can happen to make a normally nice, cheerful person batshit insane. Things like drug abuse, encephalopathy, encephalitis, vasculits, meningitis, strokes in unusual places, tumors--you get the idea. There's a lot of stuff out there that can hit your brain in such a way that your personality does a one-eighty, but most of those things are very, very rare indeed.

When they hit you, though. . .wow.

Granddaddy came in with a few personality changes and some increased sleepiness (note for new neuro people: your A-number-one sign that there's a problem is irritability and decreased consciousness in tandem) and steadily got worse. He was transferred to us with a Posey vest on, keeping him in his wheelchair as he cussed and ranted.

At some point in the proceedings, he tried to stand up and tip the wheelchair over backwards in order to get out of it. Gweneth, the steadiest and most sensible of patient care aides, was there in a second, keeping Granddaddy from overbalancing, and Stoya went around to his front to see if she could calm him down. I was close behind her. Too close, as it turned out.

Granddaddy threw a punch. Stoya did some sort of Matrix move to avoid it (thank goodness, as it would've messed up her face), and the punch landed squarely in my solar plexus.

Well! I wasn't expecting that at all.

I made a noise like a duck and went down. I'm not ashamed to admit it: have you ever been punched in the gut? I hadn't. I've been hit in the face, which only makes me angry. I've been whacked about the head and shoulders, which is disorienting and painful, but not too handicapping. Being hit in the stomach, though, right in the breadbasket, so hard that the breath gets knocked out of you? You fold up like a sack of potatoes, which I did.

Unfortunately, I folded up right where Granddaddy, still Posey'd in to his chair, could get to me with both fists and feet.

In retrospect, it's funny. It must've looked like something out of a comedy film, or that clip on YouTube where the dude in the Darth Vader costume gets attacked by a playful dog. At the time, though, all I knew was that I was getting wailed on by an angry person with what felt like superhuman strength. Oh, and I couldn't breathe.

Gweneth managed somehow to get the wheelchair unlocked in the middle of all of this and get Granddad out of range. Stoya got his arms, I got the Haldol, and things quickly got better from there.

Y'know, IV Haldol is strongly not recommended, because it tends to cause heart arrhythmias, but at that point, we didn't care. In a few minutes, things calmed down to the point that Grandpa could go back to bed.

The bruises are fading now. He didn't actually hurt me, but he sure woke me up. This is not something you think about when you're taking the NCLEX.